The Lowndes County Emergency Operations Center will be fully activated at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. It will be staffed until the storm has moved out of the area and emergency response levels return to normal. This could mean a 36-48 hour activation. City and County utilities, public works and all public safety agencies have increased manning and will be addressing storm related matters for the duration. In addition, Chairman Slaughter and Mayor Gayle have declared a local State of Emergency to enact the Lowndes County Emergency Operations Plan and to “Prohibit Overcharging for Goods, Materials, Services and Housing during a State of Emergency.
Current planning considerations for Hurricane Michael include the following:
Hurricane Michael has continued to strengthen and is currently a Category 2 Storm packing sustained winds of 100mph. It is expected to reach Category 3 strength before making landfall around 1PM tomorrow near Panama City, FL. Even though landfall won’t occur until tomorrow afternoon the impacts will be felt far in advance of landfall. We are expecting Tropical Storm Force winds (39mph or greater) by 8AM tomorrow. These winds will gradually increase up to 60+ mph with Hurricane Force gusts (greater than 74 mph) certainly possible. Confidence is high that there will be significant impacts across the area. Lowndes County remains in a Tropical Storm warning. Strong winds are expected to lead to downed trees resulting in widespread, prolonged power outages.
The earliest reasonable time of arrival is 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, with the most likely time of arrival 8:00 a.m. Wednesday. The main threat for tornados remains Wednesday morning and continues through Thursday.
The tornado threat for Lowndes County is categorized as Elevated. Since our area is forecast to be in what is termed the “right front quadrant” of the storm, there is an increased risk of being impacted by tornadoes that may develop from the approaching severe weather. Tornados can form anywhere within a storm, but the northeast area tends to produce the most tornadic activity. Based on the current forecast, Lowndes County’s tornado threat increases significantly by tomorrow afternoon. Citizens are encouraged to remain aware of their surroundings during periods of severe weather. Know the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch indicates conditions are favorable, a warning means tornadic activity has been identified. In the event of a tornado warning, seek shelter away from windows and outside walls or doors.
The current forecast indicates Michael will bring 3-4 inches of rain to the area. Citizens should expect periods of heavy rainfall. While river flooding is not expected at this time, flash flooding from heavy rain during a short period of time is a legitimate concern. Citizens should avoid flooded roads, streets, and bridges. Significant infrastructure damage could exist under floodwaters. Crossing flooded areas could result in injury or loss of life. Do not put yourself or emergency responders in danger. Flash flood waters recede fairly quickly. A brief delay in travel could save a life.
Park Avenue United Methodist Church 100 E Park Ave, will be opening as a shelter for those without adequate shelter (homeless, mobile homes, substandard housing) and those who may have medically necessary electrical equipment. They will open beginning at 7PM tonight and remain open until 12:00 noon, on Thursday.
Projected wind speeds are not favorable for those staying in recreational vehicles. If you are in a motor home or recreational vehicle, please seek shelter in a more permanent shelter.
All of the local public and private K-12 schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. An assessment will be made Thursday as to whether or not they will open on Friday. All of the local colleges (VSU, GMC, Wiregrass) are also closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Please remember local ordinances require pets to be kept safe during periods of severe weather. In the event pets cannot be brought inside, pet owners are still responsible for providing a safe shelter.
Lowndes County Emergency Management will continue to monitor conditions as Hurricane Michael develops. In the event severe weather results in downed trees and power lines, citizens should be prepared to sustain themselves for a three-day period. Supplies such as bottled water, non-perishable food items, prescription medications, flashlights, batteries, infant supplies, cleaning supplies, first aid items, etc., should be on hand. For preparedness checklists visit www.ready.ga.gov.
As with any response, communication remains key. Emergency Management Officials would like to remind citizens in Lowndes County that the Tallahassee Division of the National Weather service is the official government weather source for our area. In addition, citizens are encouraged to sign up for CodeRed, Lowndes County’s free emergency notification system, by visiting www.lowndescounty.com, and clicking on the CodeRed icon. Emergency Management will use CodeRed for specific messaging and citizens may opt in to receive weather warnings directly from the National Weather Service. In the event other communication options fail, citizens are should have a working, NOAA weather radio. Citizens may also follow Lowndes County Emergency Management on Facebook by liking, EMA Lowndes.
CITY OF VALDOSTA
There will be no sanitation services on Wednesday, October 10. Wednesday and Thursday will be collected on Thursday, October 11. The City’s “See-Click-Fix” app can be used to report public property issues within the city limits.
Additional information will be released as it becomes available.